One in three sexual abuse victims are male, study finds

Boys and young men are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse than previously thought, according to a major new study.

Boys and young men are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse than previously thought, a major new study suggests (posed by model). Credit: PA

Of 9,042 victims of sexual exploitation supported by children's charity Barnardo's since 2008, one in three - or 2,986 - were male, the NatCen Social Research and University College London found.

Calling for "urgent" action, the charity said front-line professionals should not stereotype abuse victims as girls, and also suggested schools should make it clear to children that boys are also vulnerable to abuse.

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "At the moment society is miserably and unacceptably failing sexually-exploited boys and young men."

"The tell-tale signs are being missed because of a lack of awareness and stereotypes about the nature of this form of abuse."

NatCen said professionals they interviewed reported those dealing with children can be less protective of boys than girls, meaning opportunities to protect boys, or recognise when they are being exploited, are missed.